Do we have enough power to all drive the Tesla Model S?

Tesla unveiled its Model S electric sedan amid much fanfare this week. According to the company, the car's 42 kWh battery boasts a range of 482 kilometres (300 miles) or about 11.5 km per kWh.

A problem one might wonder is whether Canada generates enough electricity to support a switch from gas to electric vehicles. What if we all drove the Tesla Model S?

Here are some back-of-the envelope figures that seem to provide an answer:

  • In 2007, there were 18.5 million light vehicles in Canada (Transport Canada)
  • They drove a total of 296.9 billion kilometres (Transport Canada)
  • If they were all Model S's, they would have consumed 25.8 billion kWh.
  • In 2007, Canada produced 612.6 billion kWh of electricity (CIA World Factbook)
  • The year before that, it had consumed 530 billion kWh of electricity (CIA World Factbook)
  • If electricity consumption remained steady between 2006 and 2007, Canada would have had 82.6 billion kWh extra.

That is to say, there was enough power capacity to let everyone drive a Tesla Model S.

Two caveats:

  • Electricity capacity does vary from province to province, and we don't know for sure whether available power is located in places where people drive the most.
  • Even though the total amount of electricity seems to be enough, electricity use is higher at certain times of the day, and during peak periods, there definitely wouldn't be enough power to allow everyone to plug in their vehicles.